Walker up for the challenge

CLEMSON - Landon Walker has been preparing for the relentless effort he'll see from Georgia Tech defensive end Derrick Morgan in Saturday's ACC Championship.

Tiger fans became all too familiar with Morgan in the first half of Clemson's 30-27 loss to Georgia Tech in September.

Morgan sacked Kyle Parker three times in the first half before Chris Hairston switched from left to right tackle to handle the pass-rushing extraordinaire.

Now, it's Walker's job to block Morgan, who he said is "probably the best" defensive end in the ACC and among the best in the country.

"I've got a lot of respect for him. I think, just watching him on film, he's got one of the best pass rushing moves," Walker said. "He's a very physical player. It'll be a good challenge."

It's not just Morgan's ability as a pass rusher that will put test Walker.

"He's a load to handle in both of them. He's hard to move and you've got to come with an attitude when you play him," Walker said.

Thanks to his 12.5 sacks, Morgan was named first team All-American by the American Football Coaches Association, ACC Defensive Player of the Year, first team All-ACC and is a finalist for the Ted Hendricks Award.

Walker played six plays against Morgan that Thursday night before finding himself as the starting right tackle the following week against Boston College. Since then, he's gotten the lion's share of the snaps with David Smith serving as the backup.

Matched up with Texas Christian defensive end Jerry Hughes in his second game as the starter this season, Walker shut out the AFCA All-American, preventing him from registering a sack in Death Valley.

As confident as he's been during his Clemson career, Walker doesn't believe the Tigers need to double team and chip on Morgan to keep him at bay.

"I don't think you have to develop a plan. You don't have to handicap your offense because of one guy," Walker said. "This is one of those games that I have to step up and play my best."

Confidence has been an asset for the entire offensive line this season. Clemson has given up 19 sacks-- third best in the ACC. Walker said that confidence grows with each week.

"We've come a long way because we've played a lot of games together," he said. "The more we've played together and gotten a feel for how each person plays the game, the better we've played."

Despite an out of character performance by the offensive line against South Carolina a week ago, Walker's focused on who's going to be lining up across from him.

"He's a great defensive end who's not going to give the game to you. It's the ACC Championship, he's not going to lay down for anybody," he said.

Based on the body of work this season, neither will Walker.

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